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Posts Tagged ‘Freddie Mac

Former Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Executives Ignored Warnings

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(AP – Tuesday, December 09, 2008)

WASHINGTON–Top executives at mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ignored warnings that they were taking on too many risky loans long before the housing market plunged, according to documents released Tuesday by a House committee.

E-mails and other internal documents released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee show that former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron disregarded recommendations that they stay away from riskier types of loans.

“Their own risk managers raised warning after warning about the dangers of investing heavily in the subprime and alternative mortgage market. But these warnings were ignored” by the two chief executives, said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the committee’s chairman. “Their irresponsible decisions are now costing the taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The two companies were seized by government regulators in September. A month later, Freddie Mac asked for an injection of $13.8 billion in government aid after posting a massive quarterly loss. Fannie Mae has yet to request any government aid but has warned it may need to do so soon.

Lawmakers questioned Mudd about an internal Fannie Mae presentation from June 2005 that showed the company at a “strategic crossroads,” at which it could either delve into riskier loans or focus on more secure ones.

Questioned about the presentation, Mudd defended his company’s effort to compete against Wall Street banks that were pouring money into subprime and other exotic loans.

“We couldn’t afford to make the bet that the changes were not going to be permanent,” Mudd said.

Mudd and three other former executives of the two companies defended their stewardship in a hearing held by the House committee.

“It’s important to remember that Freddie and its sister institution, Fannie Mae, did not create the subprime market,” said Richard Syron, Freddie Mac’s former CEO.

But Rep. Darrell Issa, R. Calif., blasted Syron and Mudd, along with former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, and former Freddie Mac CEO Leland Brendsel.

“All four of you seem to be in complete denial that Freddie and Fannie are in any way responsible for this. Your whole excuse for going to risky and unreasonable loans that are defaulting at an incredibly high rate is that everyone is doing it. If we don’t do it, we’ll be left out.”

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee around half the $11.5 trillion in U.S. outstanding home loan debt. The two companies are the engines behind a complex process of buying, bundling and selling mortgages as investments.

They traditionally backed the safest loans, 30-year fixed rate mortgages that required a down payment of at least 20 percent. But in recent years, they lowered their standards, matching a decline fueled by Wall Street banks that backed the now-defunct subprime lending industry.

Republicans blame Fannie and Freddie, and homeownership policies of the Clinton administration for sowing the seeds of the financial meltdown. Democrats defend the companies’ role in encouraging homeownership and stress that Wall Street banks — not Fannie and Freddie — led the dramatic decline in lending standards.

For years the two companies flexed their lobbying muscle in Washington to thwart efforts to impose tighter regulation.

Internal Freddie Mac budget records obtained by The Associated Press show $11.7 million was paid to 52 outside lobbyists and consultants in 2006. Power brokers such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato of New York were recruited with six-figure contracts.

The more difficult questions, however, will come next year, when lawmakers weigh what role, if any, the two companies play should play in the mortgage market.

Options include taking the companies private, morphing them into a public utility or a federal agency, or leaving them as government-sponsored entities that have private shareholders and profits, with tougher regulations.

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A watershed moment

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Clinton signs banking overhaul measure

November 12, 1999

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The biggest change in the nation’s banking system since the Great Depression became law Friday, when President Bill Clinton signed a measure overhauling federal rules governing the way financial institutions operate.

“This legislation is truly historic and it indicates what can happen when Republicans and Democrats work together in a spirit of genuine cooperation,” Clinton said at a White House signing ceremony. The event brought together the president and several Republican members of Congress who have been among Clinton’s sternest critics — a sign of the bipartisan support that eventually developed for the package.

Congress passed the bipartisan measure November 5, opening the way for a blossoming of financial “supermarkets” selling loans, investments and insurance. Proponents had pushed the legislation in Congress for two decades, and Wall Street and the banking and insurance industries had poured millions of dollars into lobbying for it in the past few years.

“The world changes, and Congress and the laws have to change with it,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm (R-Texas), who has fought for years for the overhaul. Gramm said the bill would improve banking competition and stability.

“This is a bill that is bipartisan, bicameral and tri-institutional,” said Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), chairman of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee. He noted that the House, Senate and White House had worked together on the compromise that became law.

Clinton said the measure will “save consumers billions of dollars a year through enhanced competition.” He said it also would protect consumers’ rights and require banks to expand the availability of funds for community development.

At stake is an estimated $350 billion that Americans spend annually on fees and commissions for banking, brokerage and insurance services. Proponents say the legislation will save consumers some $15 billion each year, offering them greater choice and convenience and spurring competition. Consumer groups and other opponents maintain it will bring higher prices and jeopardize consumers’ financial privacy.

The overhaul measure is one of the few major pieces of bipartisan legislation to emerge from the Republican-controlled Congress this year.

Clinton’s support for the legislation comes despite warnings from Democratic critics and consumer activists that it could lead to price-gouging of consumers and the erosion of their privacy by newly formed financial conglomerates that are too big and powerful.

“The bill is anti-consumer and anti-community,” advocate Ralph Nader declared. “It will mean higher prices and fewer choices for low-, moderate- and middle-income families across the nation.”

In addition, he said, “Personal privacy will be virtually eliminated” under provisions allowing affiliated businesses of the newly merged companies to share customers’ personal financial data as they offer one-stop shopping.

And up until a few weeks ago, the Clinton Administration itself had threatened a veto of the legislation as it took various forms that raised a series of White House objections. In recent months, the administration objected most sharply to the issue of rules requiring that banks make loans in minority and low-income communities where they operate.

Gramm, an outspoken conservative who opposes the rules, last year managed to kill a similar bill that would have overhauled the community lending laws. The White House insisted that banks be required to have a strong track record in local loan-making as a condition for being allowed to expand into other financial activities.

The big breakthrough came in the wee hours of October 22 when administration officials — including Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers — and key Republican lawmakers reached a compromise after negotiating for days behind closed doors. The White House then lifted its longstanding veto threat.

“It was sweaty, it was tense, but it had momentum,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) said of the final bargaining session. He and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) whose states are home to Wall Street and the banking industry (New York) and the insurance industry (Connecticut), helped broker the agreement.

Impeach Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd

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Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), the Chairs of the House and Senate committees, respectively, must resign their positions on these committees and impeachment proceedings against them must begin immediately.

Both Frank and Dodd have demonstrated their incompetency as the Chairs of these committees, engaging in economic policies which bring the U.S. closer to centrally planned economies such as Marxian economies.  Frank and Dodd are making decisions this country can literally not afford and threaten the world’s economies.

Our government must not be in the business of being in business and therefore must bring its involvement with the Government Sponsored Enterprises known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to an immediate end.

Socialism has no future in the United States, unless of course, you vote for Barack Obama.

Read about the meltdown time line here.